The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has implored the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to urgently investigate the cause of the diarrhoea outbreak in Luveve suburb to ensure a targeted response and quicker improved health outcomes.
Luveve residents have been adamant that the diarrhoea outbreak was triggered by contaminated tap water.
The local authority identified the disease which has claimed nine lives and infected 1500 people as gastrointestinal disease.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvanga on Tuesday attributed the diarrhoea to the 144-hour water-shedding programme currently being experienced by Bulawayo residents as well as vandalism of outfall sewers.
The government responded by setting up treatment stations and door to door inspections by the rapid response teams to determine the extent of the outbreak.
In a statement, ZADHR said the outbreak compounds an already existing public health crisis posed by Covid-19.
“The ZADHR has noted with great concern the current diarrhoea disease outbreak in Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo. The diarrhoea disease outbreak has largely been attributed to the serious water crisis facing the City of Bulawayo, particularly in Luveve and surrounding areas. The outbreak compounds the already existing public health crisis posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” read the statement.
“ZADHR takes note of the outbreak containment measures adopted by the City of Bulawayo in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child care in responding to the crisis through the setting up of designated treatment centres for children, adult screening, treatment and resuscitation and the activation of a rapid response team to conduct door to door searches off diarrhoea patients.”
The doctors said whilst they welcome these interventions by BCC and the Government there is a need for the long-term response to the water crisis in the City and other cities in Zimbabwe to avoid more deaths.
“As an urgent mitigation measure by the municipality of Bulawayo must provide clean and safe water through the use of bowsers, drilling of boreholes in affected areas and in other areas to respond to the growing crisis,” the doctors said.
They added that the council must conduct awareness campaigns on water treatment methods for home use such as boiling water and use of home certified treatment chemicals.
“For more sustainable response, ZADHR calls on the government to expedite the completion of the Matabeleland Zambezi water project so as to address the perennial water challenges in Bulawayo and the Matabeleland region,” said ZADHR in a statement.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has also called on BCC and Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate Change to urgently work together to address the issue of water supply in the City.